Another Promised Land

After Ross and I left Chicago I pined for certain things: the sanguine splash of cardinals in the trees; the husky downtown smell of raw chocolate on the verge of becoming sweet; the screech and flinty spark of a nighttime El train passing overhead on ancient, dangerously frayed tracks. I even missed the shock of skin meeting air on gelid winter days.

It took a long time for those aches to ease. I’ve told you before that I didn’t feel at home in Berkeley right away. I used to look out of our living room window at a towering pine in our neighbor’s yard and think: You don’t have to love this place all at once. Love a single branch of a single tree, and see where you get.

I started with a single branch of a single tree (a lovable pine, and today I am fond of all of it), and I got—you may tell from the throb of the heart on my sleeve—to a love that has been utterly, unexpectedly, enormous. I have lived for some time now with the knowledge that neither the borders of Berkeley, nor the outline of the Bay, defined my home.

I didn’t feel this way about Massachusetts or Illinois—but California? California is my kingdom. We’ve logged 54 hikes in the last year here, and many hundreds of miles. I’ve camped from the desert to the mountains to the sea, and driven along more twisting, narrow roads-with-a-view than I can count. The entirety of this skinny kicking leg of a state feels like it belongs to me.

I have been very happy to live here, is what I am saying to you.

And now that I have said it I will say one more thing, which is that I will also—and this is the God’s honest truth—be very happy to leave.

Here Be Announcement!

Ross and I are moving to Seattle in a few months. He’s finishing up his post-doc, and a new job is calling that has taken him a long time to choose. It is the perfect job for him right now, except for the fact that it will take us away from the place that has become our promised land. I know he has been afraid that this will break my heart—that we are moving from sunshine to rain.

But there can be more than one promised land in a lifetime, and we are still young, and there is plenty of space in this world for the two of us to disperse a little further. (And Seattle is a particularly beautiful place to stretch into, by anyone’s standards.)

I am starting a little bigger this time around. I already love the entire waterfall whose ragged spill you see below. I already love the mountain from which it flows. I already love every drop of rain in the sky, as long as it is raining over there. We’ll see where I get.



P.S. In case you were wondering about my plans, there are a few excellent ecology programs in the Seattle area, and I will be ready to apply this December. It’s true that not being able to cast a net across the whole country will constrain the grad school application process somewhat, but I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ll have where we are.

11 thoughts on “Another Promised Land

  1. Dana

    I know you have come to love California, and I hope Seattle will be a good home for you both – it is beautiful there. Congratulations! xo

  2. David

    And think about the Subaru. 16 years in Spokane, 2 in Berkeley, and now on to Seattle, or should I say, back to Washington State. Can’t believe it is still going and I won’t be surprised if its days are numbered. Our new Subaru Forester is immediately my favorite car of all time. As for the move itself — can I say that Barb and I are happy in many ways. I hope Seattle is as wonderful for you as it was for us (1974-1978).

    1. Meera Lee Sethi Post author

      You hush; that car will last another 50,000 miles! (Although we may actually ship it instead of driving it, since I’m not sure Zheli is up for a road trip.) We will be very happy to be closer to you both. xoxox

  3. David

    I’m sure Zheli COULD last another 50,000 miles. Besides basic things like better gas mileage, a smoother ride, improved safety features, etc., I’m now sold on have a sun/moon roof. It makes the inside of the car seem so much brighter even on cloudy days. Then there’s the dual climate controls. No more David being hot and Barb being cold 🙂 I’ll admit it — I’m getting soft in my old age.

  4. thaenrt

    Finally had a chance to give this the attention it needed.

    I am so thrilled that you guys are heading up my direction. I have this irrational love of Seattle that few of my friends share (though fortunately, Cori does). We haven’t been able to work up the gumption to get out of the city very often for hikes since Nora was born, but I welcome any excuse. I cannot wait to help you fall in love with my city.

    1. Meera Lee Sethi Post author

      Ethan, your being there is a huge pro and we are so looking forward to hanging out and getting to know Seattle with your help. I’m grateful for the Internet’s role in keeping us in touch all these years. Now we’ll get to play!

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